Who inspires you? Who do you admire as a role model? I’m sure a lot of those answers can be found within your close circle of friends and family, but of course, there are also those who can lift you up from afar.
It’s been hard in recent years to ignore young entertainers’ breakdowns, drug habits, and bad behavior. Demi Lovato, a 20-year-old singer/songwriter, actress, and newly appointed judge on the talent show “The X Factor,” has endured much internal struggle.
But she has courageously sought mental health assistance and boldly documented her journey to share with others for inspiration. Along with her “stay strong” motto, she’s demonstrated that obstacles can be overcome, which is what ultimately highlights her as a different type of role model.
Katie Couric (who struggled with an eating disorder during her college days) interviewed Lovato earlier this year. In a heartfelt discussion, the young celebrity opened up about the origins of her body image issues, and the time she spent at an Illinois treatment facility for anorexia, bulimia and self-mutilation.
“I always had self-confidence issues in my body and self-image problems,” Lovato said. “It also didn’t help that I had kids at school at such a young age that were really, really naturally thin, so I always felt like I was the bigger one of the group.”
She initially dealt with her insecurities by overeating, which then turned into starvation, along with binging and purging. Lovato said that certain traumatic situations could trigger those destructive habits, and she candidly spoke about being teased and berated by other peers at school.
“People don’t realize how badly cyber-bullying and verbal harassment affects you,” she said.
With regard to her eating disorders, she confirmed that being in control was important, and those unhealthy patterns developed as a coping mechanism. “Some people don’t want to feel the emotions that they have — I think I just didn’t want to feel.”
After Lovato instigated a physical altercation with one of her friends, she realized her emotions were out of control, and she knew she needed to get help. She checked herself into a rehab center shortly after the incident.
“Treatment was so difficult at first,” she said. “I remember walking around saying ‘I’m in prison,’ and they needed to have strict rules in order for me to understand how sick I was.”
The “X Factor” judge admits that while she’s currently in a comfortable place, these issues most likely will stay with her for the rest of her life. She noted that during these past two years, however, a new mindset recently clicked; a mindset of acceptance and embrace for her natural body.
This past July, Lovato told “Good Morning America” that she’s happier allowing others to see her flaws, and that’s what defines her as a new kind of role model.
“That’s what being a role model is about,” she said. “It’s not about being perfect. It’s about speaking about your issues and inspiring others to get help.”